At the end of each day, Dr. Beck encourages her devoted followers to jot down what they did right that day in a notebook; to recap the day and come up with at least one positive change or decision they made over the course of the day.
It sounds simple enough, but chances are, if you’re a performance addict like me, you probably have a much easier time fathoming what mistakes you made than tooting your own horn.
So how will I give myself credit? Well, for example, instead of berating myself for waking at 2 a.m. last night hungry/emotional and having a 3-pt incident … or spending three unplanned points on sugar-free chocolate yesterday (which totally hurts my tummy–reminder to self: must not buy again!), I would give myself credit for having biked with a friend on my day of rest and not feeling guilty that that was “all I did.” I would also give myself credit for having stuck to my no-journaling plan on Sparkpeople (just on the WW online planner–for non-Core foods).
The goal is that over time, it becomes easier and easier to focus on the positive and that the habit becomes an ingrained, natural behavior.
That said, it’s not that easy for me to do this day in and day out.
Growing up, I received tons of praise from others. My parents praised me for pretty much everything, my awesome grades being one tangible that comes to mind. (As the first-born, I could ‘do no wrong’–ha!) My ballet teachers praised me for my graceful arms and near-perfect turn-out. Teachers praised me for my creative writing abilities. In high school, my track coach praised me for keeping up with the ‘fast crowd’ during grueling practices, even though I was definitely not the star of the team.
Truly, I had every reason to think I was a pretty darn cool kid. But I never praised myself, or even saw myself as worthy of praise. And I had a very strong, innate sense of right and wrong, that gave me a guilty conscience from day one and has haunted me ever since.
In fact, as a toddler, I went so far as to punish myself for no reason. I don’t remember exactly what I’d done—probably told a little white lie or something equally child-like, but my parents like to retell the story of how when I was two, I was plagued by guilt about something I’d done that I knew was wrong, and sent myself to my room. I stayed there til dinner-time, despite their many pleas to come back out.
It was amusing for a minute when I was still in diapers (my parents know I can’t lie to save my life to this day, I have such a guilty conscience), but I “punished” myself often throughout my childhood, and even into early adulthood, even when it certainly wasn’t warranted.
Later it turned into a vicious cycle of self-flagellation with food and exercise. If I overate, I’d work out twice to punish myself. I’d deny myself the shared dessert with friends because the day before I’d been “bad.”
While I don’t beat myself up anymore with double workouts or blatant refusals of food, I do often still have those demonic thoughts.
Hopefully, between physically writing down a positive change or decision I made each day and keeping Beck’s “Give Credit” philosophy in mind, I will take one step closer to “normalcy,” a place where I can just “be,” and truly love myself, fabulousness, flaws and all.
How about you? How will you give yourself credit today?